Non-PhD level positions undervalued
Reward negative results
(1) The training model thus far is that of the medieval apprentice- a trainee is to become a clone of his/her supervisor. (2) Trainees are rarely permitted to conduct work not expressly assigned/approved by supervisor. (3) Training goals for postdocs at a national level are unspecified. (4) All postdocs are trained as if they will become academic research professors.
With the stop and start of science now and the current funding climate, it is very difficult to support a staff member. There are no university programs to provide long term support for technicians during a funding gap. Instead, there is a surplus of funds for graduate student assistantships and TA support. Universities and/or funding agencies should create funds to support technicians regardless of project funding.
The NIH should reconfigure R01 grants into two categories, which are funded from separate budget allocations. Each laboratory could only receive one R01A award, and larger laboratories would win additional funds through R01B awards. If 45% of NIH funds were dedicated to the R01A category, that would guarantee a diverse portfolio in which new investigators and smaller groups could compete more effectively.
Reforming the structure of graduate education will provide new solutions to the problems identified.
In the 1960’s, contact with patients was common in biomedical research projects (e.g., JCI, 1960’s). To remove the patient from the biomedical research enterprise would have been unthinkable. At the same time, fundamental science was recognized as having intrinsic value without a demand that it be “translational.” Transgenic mice ushered in a new, utterly dominant mode of “normal science.” In 2016, investigator-initiated biomedical research almost never involves the recruitment of a patient with a disease. At the same time, there is a diminished appreciation for the intrinsic worth of fundamental inquiry, which is almost never applied in the living humans. These two problems are related. Read more >>
You have to pay postdocs a living wage – that means if you live in the Bay Area the NIH minimum is not a living wage. A living wage is 75K. You have to pay for their health benefits – you cannot push the cost of health insurance onto a population that’s already living in poverty.
Consider eliminating support for tuition from the T32 grant mechanism, especially for senior graduate students. This change should remove systemic incentives toward larger trainee pools….
The length of postdoctoral training has become a problem. There is an easy way to solve this problem….